Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Transparency? What Transparency?

On his very first day in office, President Obama pledged the most transparent administration in history. That’s starting to look a lot like President Bush’s promise to have the most ethical administration in history. The Huffington Post reports:

One year into its promise of greater government transparency, the Obama administration is more often citing exceptions to the nation’s open records law to withhold federal records even as the number of requests for information declines, according to a review by The Associated Press of agency audits about the Freedom of Information Act.


When I first reported on the fact that FOIA denials had gone up in the first year of the Obama administration, some wondered whether that was because the number of FOIA requests had gone up. Here’s the answer:

The AP’s review of annual Freedom of Information Act reports filed by 17 major agencies found that the administration’s use of nearly every one of the law’s nine exemptions to withhold information from the public increased during fiscal year 2009, which ended last October.

The agencies cited exemptions at least 466,872 times in budget year 2009, compared with 312,683 times the previous year, the review found. Over the same period, the number of information requests declined by about 11 percent, from 493,610 requests in fiscal 2008 to 444,924 in 2009…

The administration has stalled even over records about its own efforts to be more transparent. The AP is still waiting – after nearly three months – for records it requested about the White House’s “Open Government Directive,” rules it issued in December directing every agency to take immediate, specific steps to open their operations up to the public.

The White House on Tuesday described the directive as “historic,” but the Office of Management and Budget still has not responded to AP’s request under the Freedom of Information Act to review internal e-mails and other documents related to that effort.

Roger Daltrey, you’re on.